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A widely circulated Congressional letter has been used to defend those who voted for the “Respect for Marriage Act”

I carefully read the bill. The defense for a “yes” vote must have been prepared by bipartisan Congressional staff who presume the points in bold below will sway discerning constituents. As a discerning constituent, I found myself unswayed and sat down to evaluate the talking points of those who voted “yes” on the (Dis)Respect for Marriage Act. Here is my analysis.

First, the RMA does not provide a federal right for same-sex marriage.

This statement is technically true. The Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges does, however, command a federal right to same-sex marriage. Now, and I write as the bill signing ceremony is taking place at the White House, if any state grants a marriage to any relationship between two individuals, EVERY state must recognize the marriage. This means that another state could allow marriage between a 75-year-old and an 8-year-old and that marriage must be recognized in all states, U.S. Territories and Possessions. If American Samoa, for example, simply adopted the RMA, absolutely any two individuals could marry there and transport the lowest common denominator to every state. The two individuals don’t have to be of the opposite sex. In fact, neither sex is recognized in the RMA. There is no prohibition for marriage at any age, any sex, or LGBTQI+ whatever the proclivity. Old men can marry very young girls just like Mohammed did—or young boys. Twenty-three states have no marriage age restrictions when exceptions are considered. Not long ago, Tennessee saw three ten-year-old girls marry men fifteen years their senior.

There is no prohibition or ban on incest. A grandfather or grandmother could marry their grandson or granddaughter. Brothers can marry brothers; sisters marry sisters; brothers and sisters can marry; so too, fathers and sons or fathers and daughters; mothers and sons or mothers and daughters. ANY person can marry any other person in any U.S. state, territory or possession, if they comply with the laws of the “state.” They then can move to any state and require their marriage to be recognized there. In short, the proclivities of the most perverted state are imposed on every state.

2. The RMA does not require religious institutions to recognize same-sex marriage.

False. Religious institutions will be required to recognize same-sex marriage in employment, insurance, services, housing, adoption, etc. The text of the statute reads these religious organizations “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges, for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.”  This means any other activity by a religious organization other than marriage solemnization is fair game for a lawsuit. The language, intentionally I believe, leaves the litigation door wide open for lawsuits in any other category such as religious school campus housing or hiring for soup kitchen workers for example. In short, the statute says in paraphrase, ‘religious organizations are exempt from lawsuits for refusing to conduct or participate in same-sex marriages.’ That’s all the religious protection that exists in the statute.

The rest of us are also fair game. The Colorado Cake baker, Jack Phillips, was famously sued for refusing to bake a wedding cake for two gay men. It went to the Supreme Court where he won his case— temporarily. I stopped to visit him last May. He told me the rainbow litigation terrorists are suing him again and had said to him they will never stop. All private businesses are subject to litigation persecution under this law.

3. The RMA only applies to government actors, not private individuals or churches.

This is a deceptive statement. The clear language of the RMA is the federal government’s command that “no person acting under color of state law may deny…on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals;…” This language is lifted nearly verbatim from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This language coupled with the equal protection clause in the XIV Amendment translates to ALL all individuals. We are all prohibited from discriminating against anyone on the above-referenced basis. The RMA is incorporated into our private lives and businesses by inference and precedent. In addition, in Iowa, we are by law prohibited from discrimination on the basis of age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Senator Ernst wrote she voted for the Mike Lee amendment that would have expanded religious protections for the freedom to operate a business according to your religious beliefs. She failed to mention the Lee amendment failed 48-49. The failure of this amendment will be reviewed by the courts in future litigation. The courts likely would determine, correctly, that Congress did not intend for individuals like Jack Phillips to be protected under this law. She voted for the bill on final passage anyway, indicating that religious protection was not a deal breaker for her.

4. The RMA maintains the status quo in Iowa.

False. If this were true, and maintaining the status quo in Iowa is a determining factor, why not just vote “NO.” However, I would argue the RMA does not maintain the status quo in Iowa. Iowa has marriage prohibitions against incest and age limitations. Both would be usurped by marriages coming in from other states.

Now, on the long-term futuristic end of this stunning act, I pose another problem. The right to marry under the RMA …“is between 2 individuals and is valid in the place where entered into…”  Twenty-four years ago, I amended the Iowa Defense of Marriage Act from “only between a man and a woman” to “only between one male and one female.” My argument was that in 20 years, I didn’t want to be arguing “what is a man and what is a woman?” It’s curious the Oxford Dictionary, just this week, changed the definition of a man and a woman to conform to the gender identity movement. I didn’t check their definition of male or female but I expect it was unchanged.

Under the RMA, the right to marry…“is between two individuals…” I wonder if we will be, one day, confronted with the argument “what is an individual?” Are individuals only Homo sapiens? How about other primates? In 2017, an Argentine court conferred “non-human legal person” with “inherent rights” on a chimpanzee named Cecilia. I note that Austria, California and New York have all dealt with legislation or litigation that would confer “personhood” on a non-human primate. The Netherlands has an established Animal Party seated in The Hague. I’ve seen them. Does a primate become an “individual” when defined by a court as possessing personhood?

Preposterous? I thought so when Iowa passed its “Defense of Marriage Act” in 1997. The argument against it was, “Everyone knows marriage is between a man and a woman. Why do we have to pass a law?” But as soon as 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, threw out the 1998 DOMA law and substituted their definition of marriage to include same-sex marriage. The Varnum v. Brien decision states, “Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice of law…”  One can only imagine what the woke cultural warriors will bring to our civilization next.

Steve King
U.S. Congress
Iowa District 4

Author: Steve King


  1. I hope Representative King continues to speak truth out loud. While the republican party elected redefines the party, we out here in the real world stand firm on the republican planks we helped write in the grassroots fashion. I encourage everyone to join the county committee and speak up or those redefined rights will be law. Lobby your state elected representatives! We can change this trend if we act now.


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